Joe Cordina: Welshman retains title with majority decision win over Edward Vazquez

Joe Cordina successfully defended his IBF super-featherweight title with a hard-fought majority decision victory against Edward Vazquez in Monte Carlo.

Welshman Cordina, 31, was making the first defence of his world title.

Despite being a big underdog, American Vazquez proved a worthy challenger as he forced Cordina into one of the tougher tests of his professional career, never taking a backward step.

The judges scored the contest 114-114, 116-112, 116-112 in Cordina's favour.

Vazquez's corner reacted angrily to the defeat, trading insults with Cordina's team - and Cordina admitted he had been far from his best.

"He was a tricky, clever fighter but he lost the fight, end of story," Cordina said.

"Going into the 10th, my corner told me it was probably level.

"I didn't box my best but I think I did enough to get the decision.

"That is why we have judges at ringside. He [Vazquez] couldn't beat me on my worst night.

"He's a sore loser and now he's gone off to have a little cry."

Injury issues have meant Cordina's professional career has gone slower than he would have liked, with recognition outside of Wales slow to materialise.

This was Cordina's first title defence, 519 days after he initially became a world champion and, though never at his best, he can now look ahead to bigger nights ahead.

Cordina captured the IBF title with a stunning knockout victory over Kenichi Ogawa in Cardiff in June 2022.

He then had to relinquish it as he recovered from surgery on a serious hand injury that has blighted his pro career - but he won it back in April with an extremely hard-fought split-decision win over Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov.

Both of those fights were staged at the Cardiff International Arena, with Cordina's promoter Eddie Hearn telling BBC Sport Wales after the Rakhimov victory that Cordina had "outgrown" the 5,000-seat arena.

However, rather than fighting in a stadium, Cordina's first title defence came at the Casino de Monte Carlo with a crowd in the hundreds rather than thousands.

Cordina's entrance was in stark contrast to the cauldron of noise that greeted him in Cardiff, with only 30 of the Welshman's friends and family in attendance in Monaco.

Cordina boxed in the same arena in 2019 when he beat Mario Enrique Tinoco on points and he settled quickly in familiar surroundings, catching Vazquez with left hands to the body to dominate the opening round.

Vazquez responded in round two with some clean head shots that Cordina absorbed, with the Welshman seemingly eager to engage Vazquez at close quarters.

Cordina appeared to trouble the Texan in round four with a left uppercut, but Vazquez responded well as he continued to plough forward and try to get Cordina to scrap on the inside.

Vazquez continued to stride forward with Cordina at times struggling to pick his shots against the smaller man, making the fight a lot closer at the halfway mark than Cordina's corner would have liked.

Cordina began to underline his class in the seventh round, stepping back to limit Vazquez's offence as Cordina controlled the distance and used his jab to dictate the pace, but Vazquez responded with his best in round eight.

The fight continued to ebb and flow as the fight progressed towards the championship rounds with Cordina producing several telling shots in round 10.

Vazquez had never gone beyond 10 rounds in his career but he continued to pile on the pressure, with both fighters realising the closeness of the contest in the final sessions.

A pulsating final round ended with both boxers raising their arms to claim victory but it was Cordina who got the decision, much to Vazquez's disgust.

"Joe wasn't able to do anything he wanted to do all night," Vazquez said.

"I won the fight, I know I won the fight, [promoter] Eddie Hearn knows I won the fight."

Cordina can now look forward to some potential big fights, with WBO champion Emanuel Navarrete, WBC belt holder O'Shaquie Foster or a domestic showdown with Nottingham's WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood all possibilities.

"It was a close fight, a really exciting fight," Hearn said.

"I believe every champion should try and unify the division and I believe Joe Cordina can beat any champion at 130lb.

"Whether that is in Las Vegas or Cardiff, it's time to roll the dice."